The role and responsibilities of foster carers took centre stage on the ABC’s Lateline on Friday night when questions were asked about the harm caused to children whilst in State care.
The New South Wales Government says an overhaul of the state’s foster car system is almost ready to go. But carers and unions are concerned about the plan to outsource the management of all foster care to the non-government sector.
Community Services Minister Pru Goward says most of the contracts with NGOs have been signed. She says the NGOs will provide a better ratio of caseworkers to carers. “Up until now this has been a responsibility of the Department of Community Services and the Government,” Ms Goward said.
“It hasn’t worked. We have had ratios of caseworkers to children of one to 29. “Thirty five out of 37 foster care organisations are now going to take foster children. “This means we can begin the transfer. There will be 400 children transferred by the end of June and all non-Aboriginal children are expected to be in non-government care within five years.”
But the NSW Foster Carers Association says it is worried resources for carers will be cut.Association president Patray Moncacha says funding per child has been cut in half in the NGO contracts, and carers will suffer. “They won’t cope, because the funding is not there. You’re talking about from $80,000 per year for the NGOs down to $37,000 per year,” she said. “With $37,000 how can they? They have to filter some towards the carer to care for the children, for food, shelter, clothing, activities and schooling. “Steve Turner from the Public Service Association of NSW is also against the outsourcing. “The Minister has the responsibility for that child,” he said.